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Re: maize in Europe and India: a twisted tale

This is part 2 of my reply. 

I have replied to the stuff Peter posted from Sauer. For those not in the
know, Jonathan Sauer is far from being an objective commentator. He is
strongly inclined to reject all diffusionist theories. His critique of
Johannessen demonstrates this. 

And before Peter, 

Domingo Martinez-Castilla (agdndmc@showme.missouri.edu) posted this
helpful abstract:

: Summary of rebuttal article by Payak and Sachan is below.

: >Payak, M.M., and Sachan, J.K.S.
: >  1993 "Maize Ears Not Sculpted in 13th Century Somnathpur 
: >        Temple in India." Economic botany. APR 01 1993, vol. 47 
: >        no. 2, P. 202-

: This article's abstract says:

: The contention that objects in the hands of male and female deities
sculpted : on the exterior of the Kesav Temple at Somnathpur near the city
of Mysore, : Karnataka State, India, represent maize ears is rejected on
linguistic, : religious, sculptural, archaeological, and botanical

So, let's now deal with Payak and Sachan critique of ancient Indian corn.

: The stone : inscriptions associated with the temple list items or
commodities used in : worship, maize is not included.

OK, it seems like another _argumentum ex silentio_, so beloved of the
"deniers". The old stand-by -- when you don't have a case, resort to
logical fallacies. 

I will not be able to see the complete article until after the 6th of
Jan., when the U of T libraries reopen after the holiday break. I will
look closer at these inscriptions. But meanwhile, let me ask, What about
the references to: sorghum, pomegranates, Pandanus, and what not... Are
they included?

The argument from silence, my friends, however weak, can cut both ways,
you know? 

: We find no evidence for maize figuring in any : kind of religious
ritual or worship.

This is truly bizarre. "Any kind"?

: The word
for maize used currently in the : Kannada language is "Musukin Jola" which
refers to a kind of millet resembling : sorghum (jola).  This appelation
is of recent origin and does not appear in : any literary work
contemporary with the period of construction of Somnathpur : temple. 

Evidence from linguistics. Oh, well, needs to be looked at further. But
one thing must be said right away. The hypothesis that Johannessen
formulates is that the tribes that worshipped the corn-deities, and built
the temples, were _driven out_ from the areas where the temples are, and
now inhabit the highlands. This is where one should look for linguistic
support, or a lack of it. Our critics either are not aware of what J. is
saying, or else they prefer not to see what he's saying... 

: The wall images do not fully simulate in form and proportion the :
actual human figures.

This sure looks like scraping the bottom of the barrel of Isolationists'
arguments. So what?

: The beaded ornamentation, likewise, of the hand-held :  object shows
considerable variation and its comparison whether on qualitative : or
quantitative basis with actual maize kernels of both primitive and modern
: maize is inappropriate.

"Inappropriate"? Now, this is truly pathetic. Don't question the
authority of the "received wisdom"! It's inappropriate!

: The variation in form and proportion and stylistic : features of these
objects is ascribed to their being the work of different : sculptors.

So? More scraping the bottom of the barrel?

: Maize now grown near the temple comprises modern cultivars, :
especially hybrids released during the early 1960's.

So? Johannessen deals with this... I already explained how his hypothesis
is formulated. Our critics clearly prefer to close their eyes on reality.

: It is inconceivable that : none of the primitive and advanced types of
maize purported to be represented : in the temple sculpture would have
been considered worthy of cultivation from : thirteenth century to the
present time.

Wow! This is a sure winner! "Inconceivable". What is inconceivable? 
Something that J. never maintained! Did he say these varieties were
"cultivated from thirteenth century to the present time"? This is close
to dishonesty on the part of our critics. 

: We hold that these temple sculptures : do not represent maize or its
ear but an imaginary fruit bearing pearls known : in Sanskrit as

And now... The Drumrolls... We are seeing, oh, yes, THE MODERN UNICORN
coming back to life!!! The Mythical Fruit is making its appearance once

Give me a break...

It is to be noted that the two AWESOME "denier authorities" we have seen
quoted so far disagree with each other... (The echo of Creationism?) So
what is it, Peter, the UNICORN or the sorghum? Will you make up your mind
on this? 

: -- end of abstract.

And welcome to the real world.

Also, please note that none of the criticisms seen here so far _even
mentioned_ the main supporting evidence for Johannessen besides the
carvings. And that is, of course, the OVERWHELMING evidence for a _great
genetic variety_ of maize in India, and in Asia generally! (This strongly
indicates antiquity.) A pattern of avoidance? 

All the best,


Oh, yes, also, I'm grateful to Domingo for providing the following:

: What follows is a list of references that anybody interested in this issue 
: would have to consult:

: Johannessen  1988 "Indian maize in the twelfth century B.C."  Nature 332:587  
: (note that the date was worng: should have said A.D.)

: Payak and Sachan 1988 "Maize in Somnathpur, an Indian medioeval temple", 
: Nature 335: 773-774 

: Johannessen and Parker 1989 "Maize ears sculptured..." Economic Botany

: Veena and Sigamani 1991 "Do objects in friezes of Somanthpur temple (1268 AD) 
: in South India represent maize ears?" Current Science 61:395-396

            =O=    Yuri Kuchinsky in Toronto    =O=
  --- a webpage like any other...  http://www.io.org/~yuku ---
We should always be disposed to believe that that which 
appears white is really black, if the hierarchy of the 
Church so decides       ===      St. Ignatius of Loyola

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